How wheatgrass probably accelerates wound healing

Orthodox method of wound management

Exudate is the clear liquid that "leaks" from a wound surface. It supplies essential nutrients to cells involved in the wound-healing process. If allowed to dry, it can adhere to the overlying wound dressing making it difficult to remove.

However, if wheatgrass extract is applied to a wound before the dressing is applied, it will help prevent adhesion to it.

The orthodox approach to wound healing is rather mechanical. For instance, keeping the wound moist is an old concept based mainly on clinical observation and wishful thinking that the wound will heal more quickly. However, because cells grow faster in moist Petri dishes, it doesn't necessarily mean they will do the same in open wounds.

Exudate production is essential for healing to commence, but it is sticky and can readily adhere to dressings, making them difficult to remove when dressings are changed.

If there was such a thing as an ideal wound-healing facilitator, it would :

  1. Seal the wound surface to retain exudate and prevent infection.
  2. Prevent dressings adhering to the wound surface.
  3. Reduce inflammation.
  4. Accelerate healing.
  5. Prevent or reduce pain.
  6. Reduce or eliminate scarring.

Does such a remedy exist?

Yes, it does. Wheatgrass extract applied to an open or partially healed wound before applying a dressing, will not only facilitate healing, but also prevent adhesion of the dressing to the wound. Wheatgrass achieves this by accelerating “sealing” of the wound surface. It reduces exudation of surrounding skin and protects the wound from infection.

It appears that ligands present in wheatgrass extract may assist recovery of "broken" nerve connections to the brain which responds by facilitating the healing process. (Read my theory on how I believe wheatgrass works).

Subsequent benefits can include:

  • Accelerated damaged tissue recovery.
  • A dry, non-adherent surface. (So dressing doesn't adhere to the wound surface.)
  • Easier self-management - dressings etc.
  • Minimal (if any) antibiotic requirement.
  • Significant cost and time saving for patient, nursing staff etc..
  • Safety. Wound infection is rare.

In summary, since the 1930’s, long before they were described by scientists, cereal grasses were thought to contain “growth factors”. These factors appeared to stimulate re-epithelialisation and recovery of acute wounds and burns. Cereal grasses, including wheatgrass, were also used for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.

Wound healing - Standard wound dressing method

wheatgrass accelerates skin wound healing
Fig. 1. Orthodox method of wound treatment where the dressing absorbs exudate which then dries and adheres to the wound surface. This can cause pain with dressing changes as well as damage the wound surface which slows the healing procress.

Wound healing - Wheatgrass extract method

wound healing with wheatgrass extract
Fig. 2. Wheatgrass extract assists wound healing by helping to seal the wound surface by creating a layer of new skin cells. (Thick line). This reduces leakage of exudate and prevents it from eroding the surrounding skin as well as preventing the dressing from adhering to the wound.

An important healing attribute of wheatgrass is its ability to create a layer of new epithelial cells across open wound surfaces in as little as 24 hours. This seals the wound surface and prevents erosion of skin by exudate leakage or adherence to the wound surface. 

Because wound recovery continues underneath the "new skin" layer, the dressing does not adhere to the wound and can be easily removed when re-dressing. Also, there is rapid re-vascularisation (acceleration of blood flow crucial to the healing process) and re-epithelialisation (skin surface recovery) so that exudate, which is essential for wounds to heal, is conserved.

Clearly, the wheatgrass extract is an effective, safe and economical wound-healing facilitator.

Note: These healing phenomena can also be important for the treatment of burns because the “sealed” wound prevents fluid loss and protects against infection. Pain also is often rapidly relieved (4)

The following two cases demonstrate accelerated tissue revitalisation and accelerated wound healing by wheatgrass extract.

Case No. 1 – Split lip for one year. Heals rapidly with wheatgrass extract

Split lip one year. Numerous treatments failed.
Split lip one year. Numerous treatments failed.
wheatgrass heals split lip
2 weeks later, wound has healed.

This 20 y.o. male suffered from a very painful split lower lip for 12 months. Treatments included steroid creams, anti-fungals, antibiotics and emollient creams, all of which failed to heal the wound. However, the wound healed completely just 2 weeks after one application of wheatgrass extract.

But how could this wound have healed so quickly? Well, the extract contains many ligands that appear to activate appropriate receptors that message "faults" to the brain which responds accordingly. This process can often restore normality to the injured part(s).

Case No. 2 – Wheatgrass accelerates skin graft recovery

A 50 y.o. businessman suffered a deep dog bite to his lower leg. A split skin-graft was applied to the wound and regularly cleansed and covered with antibiotic dressings.

Six weeks later the graft had failed to “take”. Note the depressed, rough surface of the purplish grafted skin, (Fig. 1.) due to an inadequate blood supply.

Fig. 1. Skin graft before wheatgrass
Fig. 1. Skin graft before wheatgrass
Fig. 2. Two days later. Note healthy appearance
Fig. 2. Two days later. Note healthy appearance
Fig. 3. Graft completely healed in 3 weeks.
Fig. 3. Graft completely healed in 3 weeks.

The wound was cleansed, wheatgrass extract applied, then covered with a non-adhesive, light dressing. (Melolin). The patient changed his dressing daily.

Two days later (Fig. 2.) there is already marked improvement. Note the dry surface over the yellow granulation areas where re-epithelialisation has already sealed the wound surface. The depressed areas have now filled in‚ the grafted skin is looking homogeneous and healthy, and has blended seamlessly with the surrounding normal skin. Most importantly, the dressing was freely removed there being no adherance to the wound surface.

After 20 days, (Fig. 3.) the wound has healed completely.

Exudate or "leakage" from the wound helps prevent infection by sealing the wound surface. Without it, its surface is unable to heal. Application of wheatgrass extract helps "seal" the wound surface, protects it from infection and accelerates healing.

How does wheatgrass work?

This article explains to some extent, how the extract can be effective in "normalising/curing" so many medical conditions and injuries, but even in the 1930’s cereal grass juices were seen to rapidly heal pus-filled wounds, as well as increase fertility rates in laboratory animals by 85%!

Another study (Reference No. 5.) showed increased production of growth hormone in rats fed green barley (cereal) juice which may also play a part in the healing process.

Dr. Chris Reynolds. M.B.,B.S.

References:

  1. Jones, V. & Harding, K. (2001) Moist wound healing . In D. L. Krasner et. al. (Eds.). Chronic wound care. A clinical source book for healthcare professionals. (3rd. ed.) (pp. 245-252). Wayne, PA. HMP Communications.)
  2. Kohler G, Elvehjem C, Hart E. Growth stimulating properties of grass juice Science. 1936. 445
  3. Gruskin B. Chlorophyll – its therapeutic place in acute and suppurative disease. Preliminary report of clinical use and rationale. Am. J. Surg. Jul 1940;49-55.
  4. Badamchian M, Spangelo B, Hagiwara Y, Hagiwara H, Ueyama H, Goldstein A. Alpha-tocopherol succinate but not alpha-tocopherol or other vitamin E analogs stimulates prolactin release from rat anterior pituitary cells in vitro. J. Nutr. Biochem. 1995;6:340-344.
  5. Hawton H. Chlorophyll: a preliminary report of its use in two cases of second and third degree burns. Med. J. Australia 1950; 337-340.
  6. Smith L, Livingston A. Chlorophyll. An experimental study of its water soluble derivatives in wound healing. Am. J. Surg. 1943. 62:358-369.
  7. Bowers W. Chlorophyll in wound healing and suppurative disease. Am. J. Surg. 1947;73:37-50.
  8. Brett D. Chlorophyllin — a healer? A hypothesis for its activity. Wounds. 2005;17(7):190-195
  9. Chernomorsky S, Segelman A. Review article: Biological activities of chlorophyll derivatives New Jersey Med. 1988;Vol85, 8:669-673.
  10. Lam C, Brush, B. Chlorophyll and wound healing. Experimental and clinical study. Am.J.Surg. 1950; 8:204-210.

Dr. Chris Reynolds.

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